Clear Net will tomorrow launch a free Web-based email service for its subscribers.
The company is billing its new WebMail service as a national first, noting that while some other ISPs offer Web email services, "they are usually provided by a third-party and are not fully integrated."
Like the familiar offerings from HotMail and Yahoo, WebMail will let Clear Net customers send and receive email from any computer with an Internet connection.
Unlike those better-known services, it is based on New Zealand-developed software. The DmailWeb application that supports WebMail is provided by local software company Netwin.
Clear's Richard Hardy says the company selected Netwin because it is a local company that offers very high levels of support and the product also has a definite upgrade path. The current version features an online address book and future additions could include options such as folders and spell check.
Hardy says WebMail caters for a changing profile of email and Internet users, giving people choice and flexibility when using their Clear Net mail account.
"A key feature of WebMail is its simplicity. As more and more first-timers join Clear Net, the general skill level of users is getting lower and we have noticed a great number of them having difficulty with the standard e-mail programmes.
"Up to thirty percent of calls to the Clear Help desk are from people who find their mail programme difficult to operate," says Hardy. "So we have designed WebMail to give customers an alternative means of accessing their mail that is extremely easy, user-friendly and secure."
Hardy says many users are reluctant to set up a completely new mail address or disclose sensitive account details to a third party.
"With WebMail, users can check, send, process and delete mail from anywhere they have access to a computer without compromising the security of their account," said Hardy.
"Customers will be able to maintain one account and user ID rather than setting up a different web-based account with a remote service provider."
Hardy says customer demand will determine the future shape and features of WebMail.